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By Dean Pennington of TBIV.net.
With Tim Thomas shipped off to Long Island, the Bruins find themselves with over seven million dollars in cap space this season. The trade deadline is less than two months away, but the buyers and sellers have already started to take shape. Calgary has been trying to offload Iginla for two seasons and would likely try and get something in return for him before he likely walks in free agency. The Bruins are loaded with trade chips and have a desperate need for a scorer, more specifically someone to help on the power play. Jarome Iginla makes sense on every level for the Bruins. He’s essentially a rental, he fits under the cap, as a physical forward he’s perfect for their system and this team currently lacks firepower. Making matters worse, Tyler Seguin is off to a slow start with only two goals through twelve games. Now more than ever, the B’s need to pull the trigger on a deal if they expect to compete with the top teams in the East come playoff time.
1. Rich Peverley is not a first line winger.
Today, with Milan Lucic flying back to Boston to address personal issues, Rich Peverley was promoted to the first line for Saturday’s game against Winnipeg. The Bruins, more specifically coach Claude Julien, pulled the same stunt in the 2011 playoffs against the Canucks when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion. While it worked in 2011, it showed then that the Bruins’ depth isn’t nearly as superior as everyone seems to think it is. That is still true in 2013. The Bruins have had much the same roster since winning the Cup two seasons ago and every time a top-6 forward has went down with injury, Bruins fans have watched Peverley, Greg Campbell and even Daniel Paille slide up onto the top two lines.
If the Bruins were to shore up their scoring lines with a skater like Iginla, it would be much easier to fill any gaps that may arise. While acquiring Iginla may clog the top-6, that’s a good problem to have. The Bruins are loaded down the middle and it will be difficult to sell David Krejci or Milan Lucic on a third-line role, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
2. Their powerplay is an unmitigated disaster.
The sad part is that Iginla may not even help in this regard. Common sense dictates that a sniper like Iginla would be a natural fit for the powerplay. However, Julien’s PP system continues to baffle everyone who follows the team. On many a man-advantage, the B’s find themselves with Chris Bourque on the ice in lieu of Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand. Greg Campbell, their fourth-line center, is currently sixth on the team in powerplay minutes, a statistic that is unexplainable. Julien’s unorthodox powerplay rotation has failed to produce. Boston is 5-for-45 on the powerplay this season, a conversion rate of 11.1% and good for 28th in the league. Last season, the Bruins finished 15th at 17.1%, although they scored only 43 powerplay goals, ranking them 22nd. Their 2011 Cup winning season was the worst of all, converting on only 16.2% of powerplays and ranking 20th in the NHL. The hopeful Bruins fan would assume that Iginla would log significant minutes on the man advantage, but that’s no guarantee. Still, just knowing the potential exists for Iginla to suit up for the Bruins on their man advantage is enticing.
3. The first two lines would finally be championship-caliber.
Sorry Bruins fans – Tim Thomas won the Cup for the Bruins in 2011. Without Tim Thomas, the Bruins don’t get past the Lightning and I’m being generous. You could argue they don’t get past the Canadiens without Thomas. Let’s face it: Lucic-Krejci-Horton is a second line on most playoff teams. So is Seguin-Bergeron-Marchand. Sure, there is some top-line talent, like Seguin, mixed in among those two lines, but no combination of those players comes close to the luster of some of the league’s best first lines. The B’s top three are no Nash-Richards-Gaborik. You know what is a top-tier first line? Seguin-Krejci-Iginla. Every Bruins fan just pitched a tent at the thought of that line taking the ice. Including this Bruins fan. This would leave Lucic-Bergeron-Marchand/Horton on the second line and the B’s would finally have a truly formidable top-six. The problem this presents is obvious, there would be seven capable forwards for six spots. But Iginla would only be a rental; if Marchand or Horton have to play thirty or so games on the third line, or maybe switch off on the second line, then so be it. Iginla is worth the trouble.
4. The Bruins lack veteran leadership.
There are few better captains in the game than Jarome Iginla. For over a decade he’s been regarded as one of the league’s classiest, most reputable captains and he would bring that veteran leadership to Boston. Zdeno Chara has earned the “C” and would continue to wear it; he’s evolved into a vocal leader in the Bruins locker room. But Iginla brings that Mark Recchi-like clout to any team lucky enough to land him. The Bruins have looked to players like Shawn Thornton or even Jay Pandolfo to deliver that veteran spark this year, but no one on their roster would suit that role better than Iginla.
5. The Bruins’ window is closing.
They got one in 2011, but one isn’t enough. Nor should it be. This team is too talented and too dedicated to only win one Cup with this group of players. Next year, the cap is dropping by over seven million dollars. The Bruins are going to be hard pressed to sign many of their players beyond their current contracts. Tuukka Rask is playing like he’s going to earn himself a giant raise at season’s end. If the season ended today, the Bruins would be at the cap. Their core, minus Rask, is locked up for the foreseeable future, but many important peripheral pieces are going to be in need of contracts soon. Nathan Horton is up after 2014, along with Seidenberg, McQuaid and Chara. The Bruins need to start thinking about the future and have done that by stockpiling draft picks over the last few years. While the B’s will likely never be thrust into full rebuilding mode, their core is getting more expensive and more difficult to keep together. If the Bruins can’t find a way to keep Rask and everyone else in their top-9, they may find themselves exiting early over the next few seasons. The time is now to add a force like Iginla and make another cup run. Hopefully, management feels the same way.
6. The Tim Thomas trade doesn’t make any sense if Iginla isn’t signed.
Admittedly, you could make this argument with players other than Iginla, but the point remains the same. The Bruins could have just waited until the end of this season to wipe Tim Thomas off of their books but instead, they chose to trade him. Peter Chiarelli is usually very deliberate with his moves. He traded for Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley when everyone was begging for a potent goal scorer. He traded for Mark Recchi, confusing all of Bruins nation. We all ate our words when the Bruins lifted the Cup that same year. Chiarelli would have kept Thomas if he didn’t need the cap space to make a move, plain and simple. I’m taking that trade to mean that he is analyzing the market and preparing to pull the trigger. Chiarelli has admitted, most recently on “Felger and Mazz”, that the powerplay needs help. He seems to be aware of this team’s shortcomings and moving Thomas was the biggest hint he could drop. Maybe it’s a red herring, but until proven otherwise I’m taking it to mean that a big deal is on the horizon.
So should the Bruins sign Iginla, what does the deal look like? Well, the Bruins have two second-rounders in the 2013 draft. They have a plethora of AHL and junior-league talent. Any combination of a high-to-mid round draft pick and a young forward or two gets it done. Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner, Matt Bartkowski, Chris Bourque. Jordan Caron not only has NHL experience, but has been impressive in the games he’s played in the big league. Any one of those players is more than worth Iginla. Whether or not Iginla is worth any of those players is up to Calgary, but the Bruins should have no trouble putting together a competitive trade package I they’re so inclined.